Of the 131 FBS programs set to compete in 2022 (welcome to the big leagues James Madison), a mere 15 – or 11 percent – don’t have an FCS opponent scheduled.
That’s the same as the 15 clubs who didn’t face an FCS squad last season and three fewer than the 18 that did so (or were originally scheduled to do so) in the pandemic-compromised 2020 campaign.
By conference, the Power 5 honor roll includes five Big Ten members (who are legislated against scheduling FCS foes unless they’re playing only four league games at home), two from the Big 12, two from the Pac-12, one from the ACC, and independent Notre Dame. From the Group of 5 ranks, it’s two from C-USA and one apiece from the American and Sun Belt.
That means that the SEC, MAC, and Mountain West all have 100 percent of their membership playing an FCS opponent in 2022.
Each of the teams listed below will face, to differing degrees, a schedule that is one step more difficult than that of their counterparts.
2022 non-conference opponents: TCU, at Air Force, at Minnesota
Colorado last played an FCS team in 2021, Northern Colorado, after taking a two-year break in 2019 and 2020. The next FCS date on the books is a 2024 visit from North Dakota State. If that stands, it will make Colorado FCS-free for two consecutive seasons again as they were just a couple of years prior.
2022 non-conference opponents: at South Carolina, North Carolina, Charlotte, at Army
Georgia State first fielded a football team in 2010 and joined the FBS ranks via the Sun Belt in 2013. After scheduling three FCS opponents in its first season in the FBS, the Panthers played one such foe per year through 2019, also the last time they booked an FCS club. Georgia State has a visit from Rhode Island slated for 2023, the first of a stretch of four consecutive FCS opponents that runs through 2026.
2022 non-conference opponents: at UTSA, at Texas Tech, Kansas, Rice
Houston has failed to schedule an FCS opponent only three times since it began the practice of doing so regularly in 2005: in 2012, 2017, and 2020. Moving forward, the Cougars do have Sam Houston State slated for 2023 and 2028, but the Bearcats are set to become members of C-USA next year meaning they’ll be an FBS program at game-time. Houston has no other FCS opponents currently booked.
Back in 2018, Louisville scheduled a home game against the James Madison Dukes for the 2022 season when they were a FCS member in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA). However, the Dukes are moving up to the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) this season and will count as an FBS opponent for the Cardinals.
2022 non-conference opponents: Buffalo, at Charlotte, SMU
Though Maryland gets extra credit for not scheduling an FCS foe, they lose points for not booking a Power 5 opponent outside of conference play in 2022. After hosting an FCS program consecutively from 2006-17, the Terrapins have – as per the Big Ten dictate – scheduled such an opponent every other year, or when they play only four league games at home. Their next action vs. an FCS foe is in 2023, when Towson visits College Park.
2022 non-conference opponents: Colorado State, Hawaii, UConn
Michigan (who like Maryland doesn’t have a Power 5 opponent outside of Big Ten play in 2022) hasn’t squared off with an FCS foe since 2010, when it nipped UMass (which was still two seasons away from moving up to the FBS ranks) 42-37. The Wolverines don’t currently have any FCS opponents on the books.
2022 non-conference opponents: Western Michigan, Akron, at Washington
From 2009-16 Michigan State went FCS-free only twice (2012 and 2015). Since then, it’s taken the alternate approach, scheduling only one FCS opponent from 2017-21 – Youngstown State last season. Moving forward, the Spartans look to be back in the Big Ten rhythm with future dates vs. Richmond (2023) and Youngstown State (2025).
2022 opponents: at Ohio State, Marshall, Cal, at North Carolina, vs. BYU (in Las Vegas, Nev.), Stanford, UNLV, at Syracuse, Clemson, vs. Navy (in Baltimore, Md.), Boston College, at USC
Notre Dame hasn’t played an opponent that was considered a “non-major” at game-time since 1941, when it traveled to Carnegie Mellon (now a D-III program) in Pittsburgh, Pa., and blanked the Tartans 16-0. The Irish have no current plans to play an FCS opponent.
2022 non-conference opponents: Notre Dame, Arkansas State, Toledo
The Buckeyes’ most recent foray vs. an FCS squad came in 2013 when they hosted Florida A&M and won 76-0. Prior to that, it was back-to-back season openers vs. Youngstown State in 2007-08. Ohio State doesn’t have any future dates with FCS programs.
2022 non-conference opponents: UTEP, Kent State, at Nebraska
This is Oklahoma’s first FCS-free season since 2018, a run that began in 2013. The Sooners beat South Dakota (2019), Missouri State (2020) and Western Carolina (2021) by a combined score of 194-14. Their next scheduled FCS date is a 2025 matchup vs. Illinois State.
2022 non-conference opponents: Virginia Tech, at East Carolina, at Virginia, Liberty
Old Dominion first fielded a football team from 1930-40, returning to the gridiron in 2009 as an FCS club and moving up to the FBS ranks via C-USA in 2014. Since then, the Monarchs have never failed to schedule an FCS opponent, making 2022 their first-ever season to be FCS-free. They have no future dates currently scheduled vs. the FCS.
2022 non-conference opponents: Ohio, at Auburn, Central Michigan
After playing an FCS club consecutively from 2008-11, Penn State didn’t schedule such an opponent from 2012-18. It opened the 2019 season with a visit from Idaho (which had moved from the FBS to the FCS in 2018) and then squared off with Villanova last year. Moving forward, the Nittany Lions will continue the Big Ten pattern of alternating years with FCS foes – Delaware in 2023, Villanova in 2025 and Delaware again in 2027.
2022 non-conference opponents: ULM, Alabama, UTSA
Texas hasn’t played an FCS program since 2006, scoring a 56-3 win over Sam Houston State. Prior to that it was a 1992 date with North Texas (the Mean Green didn’t join the FBS ranks until 1995). The Longhorns don’t currently have any future dates with FCS schools.
2022 non-conference opponents: Rice, Fresno State, Notre Dame
USC hasn’t played an opponent that was considered a “non-major” at kickoff since 1952 when it hosted the San Diego Naval Training Station Bluejackets and won 20-6. Though the Trojans also scored a home win over San Diego Navy in 1951, they – as the No. 6 ranked team in the nation – got upset 33-6 on the Bluejackets’ home turf in 1945. USC doesn’t have any future plans to play an FCS program.
2022 non-conference opponents: at Oklahoma, New Mexico State, at New Mexico, Boise State
This is the first time since 2017 that UTEP has gone FCS-free. Of the Miners’ five total wins from 2018-20, three came vs. FCS opponents. Moving forward, they have games scheduled against UIW (University of Incarnate Word, San Antonio, Texas) in 2023 and Houston Baptist in 2027.
Historical data courtesy of Sports Reference/College Football.